Just another average sunset in paradise!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A new friend shows up

Last Wednesday when Jesus came up to do some weed-whacking he brought a new puppy along for the ride.  He is about 5 months old and obviously a Heinz 57 type of mutt.  Black, brown and tan coat with a large blot of white centered on his face.  The really special thing about him is his eyes: they are an almost white, light gray similar to what you sometimes see on sled dogs.  His ribs were showing through his short-haired coat but he seemed to be very happy.  He has one of those "propeller" tails that makes a rapid full circle behind him when he is very excited.

Jesus told me that he was living down below me at Bill's motor home and that he would feed him.  Thursday afternoon I took down some food and gave him water.  Early Friday, I could hear him barking so I went down.  I couldn't stand the sad look in his eyes so I untied him and he followed me up the hill to mi casa.  He hasn't left my side since then.  No matter where I go he seems to be under foot.  Sarah is a little jealous and each time I pet him she hops up and demands equal opportunity petting.  They seem to be getting along well.

At night, Sarah has always slept up in the house while I am down in Dod.  Lobo (I forgot to mention his name earlier) chooses to follow me down the stairs and spends the entire night sleeping under Dod.  I swore I would never acquire another dog but I couldn't resist.  Oh well, there goes more money on shots, neutering and food.  Overall a small investment for the enjoyment he is already providing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Getting tired of storm stories?

I will make this one very short.  It seems that when September arrived, the storm pattern took on a different timing with most recent storms beginning a couple of hours before sunset.  We had another great storm on Tuesday night.

Similar to other storms it started both South and North and centered in on Aticama.  The lightning was awsome as there were several distinct bolts hitting the ground all around me.  When the storms converged on my house, the rain was coming down in sheets (2" in the first hour) and the lightning and thundered continued.  There were several flashes where I could not count to one before the thunder roared.

I was luck to witness two strikes unlike any I had ever seen before.  One struck about 1/4 mile offshore right below the house.  When it hit the water there was a large orange flash followed almost instantly by the loud crackle and booms of the thunder.  A few minutes later, a bolt connected with either the cell tower in town or a transformer and when it did, there was a bright green fire in almost a perfect circle.  All the lights in the village went off for a few seconds and came back on.  A while later, after a couple of more localized flashes the lights went off and stayed off not returning until 10 am the next morning.

I had the opportunity to gloat on the fact that I was in my kitchen watching the storm while reading a book using my solar powered lights!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Designated cooking day

Once a week I like to set aside most of the day to prepare several meals so that I have choices each time hunger strikes.

Bell peppers and onions

I believe that most meals taste better with the addition of bell peppers and onions so each week I purchase a very large green bell pepper, a very large red bell pepper and a couple of onions.  I chop up the entire batch and sautee them in butter until they are just right.  I then fill a couple of sandwich baggies with the finished product and freeze them.  Additionally I fill a couple of plastic containers and keep those in the fridge for daily use.

I can't tell the difference between these and fresh chopped.  I use these in breakfast burritos, spaghetti, rice pilaf, bean and beef burrito filling, mashed and scalloped potatoes and anywhere else that seems right.  This method saves gas and avoids the usual discarding of half used vegetables.  It is also much quicker when preparing meals which means I am apt to use them more often.


Molida is ground beef and it is one of my favorite entrees no matter how it is prepared.  When I buy it, I buy a kilo (2.2 lbs).  When I get it home, I separate it into 8 packages, some patties and some bulk, for later use.  By freezing the patties they are always ready to use and there is no waste.  A kilo in San Blas costs 65 pesos and you get to watch them grind it!

Betty Crocker potato side dishes

Betty Crocker must sell 20 or so potato side dishes with a majority being Au Gratin, Scalloped, et cetera and the minority a variety of mashed potatoes.  These come in a box with a packet of sauce and a packet of potatoes.  When I was at my brother's in Bakersfield I stocked up.  Usually these sell for $1.79 to $2.29 per box.  I noticed a sale at Albersomn's market and stocked up.  All varieties were on sale for $1.29 quite a deal!  Added to that, if you bought 10 items (assorted) you got an additional 50 cent discount per package.  I shopped on a Tuesday for a very good reason: Anyone 60 and over gets an additional 5% discount on Tuesdays!  To make the deal even sweeter, several of the boxes had a "use it now" coupon offering 50 cents off on the purchase of two packages.

I purchased a total of about 150 packages that day and figure that my average cost per package was around  $0.70 and each package provides two meals!  These are ideal for Dod as they almost never expire, they are lightweight, and they are square so they store well in cramped spaces.  Of the 150 packages purchased in November, I am now down to the last 50 or so.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A lizard{s tale

Other than iguanas I haven’t written too much about lizards.  Well I have lizards!  I have lizards in the house, on the patio, in the upstairs yard, the downstairs yard, all the way down the hill to Bill’s casa and both on and inside Dod.  I really like lizards.  They are fun to watch and, bless their hearts, they eat bugs!

I think there may be as many as a dozen different type of lizard here.  I cannot go out without one or two running for cover.  They range in size from about 4” (full grown) to well over 12”.  I am excluding iguanas here as they grow to nearly 5’.

The smallest variety live in the palapa covering the dining patio.  At 4” I figured they were just young until I saw the male display.  He has a pouch under his chin that he expands until it about the size and shape of a quarter.  It is bright orange with variegated white stripes.  The second clue that he is full grown came when I carried my dinner out to the dining patio and couldn’t use the table as the little guy and his girlfriend had commandeered the space.  I can hardly wait for the babies; how small will they be?

One way I have identified several varieties of lizard is with my unintended lizard trap.  For some reason they get stuck in the bottom of the bath tub (no water) and they are unable to climb out.  I tired of lifting them out so I built a lizard (and frog) escape ramp using a piece of wire mesh.  I haven’t found a lizard in the tub since!

One of the most numerous varieties here is the gecko.  Is the gecko a lizard?  Geckos are all over the house living in tight spaces near the floor and also high up in the palapa roof.  You can’t always see them but you can sure hear them.  They make a chirp-chirp-chirp noise and I assume they are looking for a mate as they sing out.  I have a permanent resident gecko in Dod and two or three that live on the outside of Dod.  I think these are the smart ones.  Each night as I am laying in my bunk reading, geckos appear on both side windows.  As the bugs are attracted to my reading light and bounce of the windows, the geckos chase them down.  It is really something to watch.

And, finally, an iguana tale.  The baby green iguanas started showing up a couple of months ago.  I see them all over but am never quite sure if I have seen five iguanas in a single day or one iguana five times.  Last week I was sitting in the front room reading and as I glanced out the door I say one of these babies (about 8” long) casually strolling along the top of the wall.  The babies generally stroll and are not even frightened as you approach them.  All of a sudden, the little guy took off like “a bat out of hell” and ran all the way past the bath tub and hopped off the wall.  I had never seen one move so fast and by careful observation I quickly determined the reason for his haste.  At the spot where he had climbed up the wall there was a 3’ to 4’ garter snake climbing up after him.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A perfect storm

No, not the movie or the book but the real thing.  A few days ago, Francisco emailed me and asked if I had any pictures of storms that I could send him.  The answer is no because I keep forgetting to buy an USB cable to connect my camera to the computers at the various internet cafes I visit.  I will definitely put it on my list for my next trip to the Wal-Mart in Tepic!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Does that mean that a thousand words are worth a picture?  Well I won’t use nearly a thousand words (it may seem that way)  but I will describe the storm that coincidentally occurred the same night I read that email.

Each evening I spend the last couple of hours of daylight out on the patio just sitting there looking at the view.  To the north is the house; to the east is a mountain range; to the south is the village of Aticama and a beautiful coastline; and, to the west is the Pacific with great views of the peninsula where San Blas is located.  This particular night as I glanced to the east, there were beautiful gray clouds working their way over the mountain range changing their configuration every few moments.  To the west there were cumulous clouds floating all along the horizon that seemed to be preparing for a great sunset.

Now for the south.  To the south there was an enormous  very dark gray cloud extending from the mountain range far out over the ocean.  The portion that extended over the ocean (maybe 5 miles) was releasing a torrential downpour so thick that it permitted no sign of light from the other side and the surface of the ocean reflected the incredibly dark gray of the huge cloud above.

Closer to the house there were 4 surfers enjoying some of the last waves of the day.  It seems that the surf builds up in the afternoons and often is at its best just before sunset.  All of a sudden as I watched the surfers taking off on the waves a lightning bolt shot out of the cloud and went straight down to the angry surface of the sea.  Using the highly scientific method of one-one thousand, two-two thousand I was able to determine that the bolt was less than two miles away.  The noise generated by the cold air slamming into the void created by the resulting hot air caused by the lightning was at first a loud crackle followed in seconds by a couple of loud booms.  The surfers seemed to ignore it and continued as if nothing had happened.

You may have read my post about seeing 53 individual flashes of lightning in a minute.  That was a completely different type of lightning and the tremendous bolts that struck this evening were only coming down at the rate of one or two per minute which to me made them spectacular.  The normal wind in the evening comes in from the west but this night it was coming from the south pushing that huge cloud inexorably closer to mi casa every minute.  In just a few minutes I could feel small drops coming down.  Normally I wait until about 8:00 p.m. to head down to Dod for the night but this night I thought it might be better to go down a little earlier: about 6:00 p.m. 

I was snuggled down in my bunk in Dod by 6:15 p.m. and it was just in time!  As soon as  I   opened up my book and began reading the sky opened up.  I am talking a downpour!  My uncle from Texas used to describe this type of downpour as being “like a cow pissing on a flat rock”.  Probably not the prettiest picture to envision but a very good descriptive phrase for this particular storm.  Within a hour the winds started.  I would guess that the winds were blowing steadily at 40 mph with gusts above 50 mph.  I have never been in a hurricane and I don’t really think I want to experience one.

In the morning the rain gauge showed that we received over 3 inches of rain during a storm that lasted just under 4 hours.  Unfortunately the road up to the house concurred with the rain gauge and with considerable damage from runoff.  The dawn brought a beautiful sunrise and reaffirmation of why I love living here.